40 Miles on Burke Mountain and the Kingdom Trails

40 Miles on Burke Mountain and the Kingdom Trails


I may feel like a paraplegic today, but I wouldn’t trade our experience at the Kingdom Trails on Saturday for anything–not even a new pair of quads! 🙂 It was more fun than I could have ever imagined, and we are really excited about doing more events like this in the future! Here are some of the highlights from our day:

An Early Start and A Small Group

Our day started well before the crack of dawn, and I was still mostly asleep as we made the two-hour drive north, starting at 3:30 in the morning. We arrived just in time for the 5:30 trail briefing. Since this wasn’t an organized race (just a group of about runners and a few volunteers to provide aid along the way), the course wasn’t marked, so we carried maps and did our best to follow the suggested 40-mile route. There were 10 participants total, and 3 people (also runners) who manned the mobile aid stations.


I originally thought that it was kind of a bummer to have so few people involved, and that it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as doing a real race with hundreds of other runners, but it was actually really nice to get to know the few people that were there and have more in-depth interactions with them throughout the day. Jaime, Peter and I stayed together all day, and we were joined by one other guy, a Japanese runner named Tetsuro. We saw the other runners occasionally at the aid stations, but never really ended up running with anyone else.

Burke Mountain

We started running right at 6:00 a.m., and our route took us directly up the side of Burke Mountain. As I mentioned in my last post, this was a 2,000 ft. ascent, so we did very little actual running during the first few miles of the day. It was about 3 miles to the top of the mountain, and it took us about an hour.


Near the top of the mountain–they still had lots of snow!!!

Once we got to the top, our course outline directed us to climb the observation tower for a 360-degree view. We were all in kind of a relaxed mood due to the care-free, no-pressure atmosphere of the event, so we laughed and climbed the tower and were richly rewarded for our effort with a beautiful view.




Jaime waiting at the bottom of the tower. She got partway up and decided she did not like being that high off the ground! 🙂

Then we headed straight back down the mountain via the paved auto road. By the time we got back down to the bottom, my quads were toast. I literally already felt like I had just run the Boston Marathon (as in, so sore that I couldn’t walk down steps or sit without using my arms to lower myself)! And we were only 5 miles into a 40-mile run!

Post-Burke Mountain


Looking back at Burke Mountain

Thankfully, the rest of the course fairly flat with just gentle rolling hills and lots of switchbacks, so we were able to run without taxing our already over-used muscles too much. We really enjoyed the long stretches of beautiful single-track winding through the forest, following the narrow dirt track through fields with expansive views and running alongside the bank of a peaceful, shallow river.



Pete’s Pond, where we saw a beaver! (Tetsuro’s photos)

The Sun

Saturday was a very hot, sunny day, and unfortunately, the part of the course that we were running during the afternoon was mostly out in the open. I think I put on sunscreen about 5 different times during the day because I was so worried about being roasted!


Looking back at Burke Mountain as we crossed “Cow Poop Pasture” (yes, there was lots of cow poop!)


The Chapel


View from “Heaven’s Bench”


Me descending from “Heaven’s Bench” (Tetsuro’s photo)

The Aid Stations

We were very pleasantly surprised by the aid we received throughout the day. Our crew of three manned two mobile aid stations (literally all the amenities of a normal aid station–food, gels, electrolytes, water–in the back of a couple of SUV’s) and met us at several different points on the course throughout the day. They literally catered to our every need, and we had a lot of fun chatting with them while we rested for a bit and re-fueled. We took it easy and didn’t worry about how long we spent at the aid stations, especially as the day went on. It was nice to not be in any hurry like we would be in a race. And because people always seem to be curious about what I eat during ultras, here’s a list grouped by aid stations: {half a banana, 1 gel, topped off my pack with water}, {1 lg. strawberry, 1 gel, 2 lemon cookies}, {1 grilled cheese sandwich, filled my pack with Perpetuem}, {half a PB+J sandwich, half a banana, 1 lg. strawberry}, {1 grilled cheese sandwich, a handful of grapes, 3 sm. cups of Coke, filled my pack with Perpetuem}, {half a grilled cheese, 2 slices of cantaloupe, 2 sm. cups of Coke, added an Endurolyte Fizz tablet to my pack}, {3 slices of cantaloupe, a few chocolate-covered potato chips, 2 sm. cups of Coke, topped off my pack with water and added a NUUN tablet}. This was the first time I have ever drank soda during a run, and let me tell you, it hit the spot.


Heading back out after a leisurely aid station stop. 🙂

Ice Cream

As we were running the last few miles of our 40-mile journey, the trail ran through the tiny town of East Burke, and we found ourselves with the river on one side and Main St. on the other. It was a beautiful setting, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we saw an ice cream shop! We voted unanimously to make a quick pit stop, and I am fairly certain that I have never had a better tasting ice cream cone in my life! I got the maple soft serve, made with real maple syrup, if you’re wondering. 🙂


The beautiful river


The site of the maple creamie 🙂

The Finish

At around 4:00 in the afternoon, we finally hobbled back to the parking lot at the Burke Mountain base lodge where we had started almost 10 hours earlier. We made a wrong turn at some point between the ice cream shop and the base lodge and missed out on a really good trail, but by the time we realized our mistake we were too tired to go back, so we followed the road to the lodge instead. We could barely run at this point (in fact, we did a lot more walking than running during those last few miles), but we were very happy about our great day on the trails. We showered at some public showers nearby and then, once everyone else had straggled in, we all got burgers and fries for dinner at a local restaurant and shared our “trail tales” from the day.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.







One thought on “40 Miles on Burke Mountain and the Kingdom Trails

  1. wow, what an adventure! the pictures are amazing, and what a fun route to run…..thanks for sharing! =)

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